X.c.50: Letter from William Byrd, Lincoln's Inn, London, to Dr. John Woodward, 1697 August 14: autograph manuscript signed

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Preferred Citation:Letter from William Byrd, Lincoln's Inn, London, to Dr. John Woodward, 1697 August 14: autograph manuscript signed. Transcription by Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO). MS X.c.50, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC.
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No. 52.
Mr B[◇]rd 14 Aug 97.
To Dr Woodward
These

Mr Byrd. Aug. 14. 97
Ab.t ye Notions of ye Americans in
Virginia Concerning ye universal
Deluge, Dissolution of ye Earth. &c.



Dr Woodward
According to your desire I have here sent you ye Indian
account of ye manner how shells & other marine bodys came to be reposited
in ye bowels of the Earth, and at great distance from their originall habitation.
And indeed if your quarrelsome adversarys did but know it, they might with
equal probability assert that you pillag'd some part of your Book from ye
Indians as well as from ye Ancients. Their notions conc[◇]ning that matter are
not very disagreeable, as appears by the following Instance. An Indian priest
came one day to an Englishmans house, yt happend at yt time bto be sinking
of a well, & amongst other things he threw up several shels wch seemd to be
ye Spolia of some fish, & askt ye Indian how it came about that they shou'd
straggle so far from their proper Element, and be lodg'd so deep in ye Earth?
I admire says ye Indian yt you shou'd be an English man & not know that,
I'll tell you presently how it came to pass. And so takeing a Paile, and haveing
put into it a little dirt, he fill'd it up with water, now you must know a
multitude of years ago (says he) there happen'd a terrible Deluge that drowned
all ye world except an old man & his wife, (& then with a stick stirring ye dirt
and water together) thus says he by ye means of some violent convulsion wase
the Earth and ye water jumbled together, and when that ceas'd the Earth presently
subsided and all shells & other heavy Bodys sunk down along with it, & each
took its place according to their its gravity. And these shells wch you dug up, have
lain where you found ^em out of harms way, ever since. This remarquable story
I had from a minister who was told it by ye man himself yt was digging ye
well, so that theres a great deale of reason to believe 'tis true. And so much I
can say upon my own knowledge that many of 'em have a tradition of a Deluge.
but I must confess I neuer recieud from any of em such extraordinary Instance
of Indian Philosophy as this I haue here mentiond. I am very truly
Dr Your humble Servt
William Byrd
Lincoln In ye 14th of Augst 97




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